Thursday, 9 February 2017

Minifigures - The Lego Batman Movie, Villains Part 1

It's hard to miss the upcoming Lego Batman Movie, span off the character's superb showing in The Lego Movie. And it looks like a cracker even if I'm getting increasingly sure I've seen most of it now from the myriad trailers. Not only does it look like a cool film but its' off-beat nature means the stranger end of Batman's Rogues Gallery are getting Minifigures, characters that would never have done so any other way. They're spread across sets but some have also been released in the long-running and much acclaimed series of blind bags, a biggest-yet set of 20 coming out. If the ones for the Lego Movie are anything to go by the characters featured will be a mix of variants of main characters (in this case some oddball gag costumes for Batman, the Joker etc.) and guys who will likely to either a one-off punchline or even background, like the 2014 series' Velma Staplebot or Panda Guy. But who cares, we still get awesome Minifigs out of it.


Typical of a dippy seventies Batman villain, the Calculator consisted of taking something - the mid-seventies boom in pocket calculators - and running with it as far as possible. Someone spoilt the fun a bit by turning him into a proper character for Birds of Prey but there's none of that here as Noah Kuttler is rolled back to his debut appearance where the numerically-obsessed villain dressed in an outfit adorned with visual nods to - yes - a pocket calculator. The Minifigure's more bulky, no doubt due to the desire to reuse the extant cowled armour one-piece; there are only a handful of newly cast pieces across the blind-bags, most of the new toolings being channelled towards the boxed sets. However, it does mean they can go to town on the paint apps and in addition to a neat pattern up the side of his fetching purple/white jumpsuit the Calculator has his numberpad chestplate present (it's too small for actual numbers but '+', '-' and '=' are present so you know what it is) and a visor reading '07734' - presumably 55378008, the only other thing anyone put into a pocket calculator, wouldn't fit. The overall result is smashing, one of the best of the series - and just about serious enough to fit in with other non-movie Batman villains in a display. 


My middling knowledge of Batman was exposed when I nearly discarded Catman as just another nutty Batman costume variant but no, he's actually a separate guy, albeit one who started out as a bit of a joke - firstly by trying to frame Catwoman for a spate of burglaries (because they both dress like cats, right?) and then having much fun made of him for being such a dim idea before being another guy to be Gail Simoned into respectability (she also announced the character was bisexual via Tumblr, just in case you'd missed the sort of desperate posturing for attention the industry's been reduced to in the past decade). Anyway. The character's thing has always been his costume being close to Batman's and that's not wavered in the face of boring identity politics, so naturally he's a recolour of Batman in Minifig form. It's well-done with some good paint applications, not to mention a brown version of the new utility belt piece. The only parts variation is the addition of a pair of Wolverine-style claws; while it's better than nothing not for the first time I'm wishing Lego had a smaller version made.


A sixties creation, Lenny Fiasco crossed Batman's path due to placing adverts everywhere extolling his ability to remove all evidence from crime scenes for fellow criminals. Naturally he decided to so so dressed as a giant pencil with the eraser end as a helmet. I'd make fun of the name Lenny Fiasco but it's not bad for sixties DC. Anyway, he's yet to become all hip-and-happening for the 21st century, his main appearances since seemingly further gag ones in one of those manchild-friendly Bruce Timm cartoons with fellow loser villains. The Minifig is spot-on for the sixties version with its' ostentatious yellow pin-striped suit and the head is a new piece that does the job exactly - with a nice side-helping of absurdity as there's theoretically a person in there but unlike the comic they can't cheat with someone having a narrow head and the result is his head is about half the width of everyone else in the universe's as a result. It works, and the addition of a notepad for upcoming jobs rounds him out nicely.


One of the more recent additions, the comic version of the March Harriet provided T&A for an Alice in Wonderland gang as one of DC's intermittent attempts to combat the grimdark. Thankfully the Lego designers get more action than the DC artists so Harriet looks less like she's wandered in from Hustler's This Ain't Alice in Wonderland XXX; the emphasis here is more on cute and unhinged than slutty with a reserved take on the costume and a smart reuse of the extant Bunny Guy headpiece. And so she doesn't look too harmless she had a Tommy Gun, making for a solid and cringe-free figure.

Another relatively recent addition thanks to Harry Llama, Grace Balin is unique among recent female superheroes through not actually being even remotely sexy in her super form; rather than some sort of tarty mermaid she's basically an Orca on legs, though occasionally some of the more sexually frustrated artists give her a pair of comically pendulous breasts. Just a massive pair of tits on a walking Orca. She's considered one of the worst Big Two characters to have appeared this century and with good reason. About the only reason she's getting a workout here even in a film full of weird bad guys is that the Minifig Shark Guy (a.k.a. Left Shark), thankfully with the whole boob thing played down. A neat piece of work is the head recoloured to be a gaping mouth inside the shark head. It's about as good a piece of merchandise as a crap character is likely to get but I'd really rather have seen the Condiment King; I'm sure any kids buying the figure, Googling for more info and being greeted by this would agree too.

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